Got Tableau questions? I got a rock.

Some reflections on being a Tableau Zen Master

In October, I got a phone call from shipping & receiving saying there was a package for me. Which was weird, because I’m embedded so deep in the hospital, organizationally and physically – to get to my office, you need to walk past central supply, the pharmacy, maintenance, the laundry, the biological waste fridge, the dumpster, shipping & receiving, the kitchen, the morgue, the oxygen tanks, a few storage closets, and microfiche storage – I hardly ever get mail or contacted by anyone outside I didn’t contact first.

Inside the package was a lovely box, and inside that were a rock, a thumb drive with a single .twbx file on it, and a note:

That’s how I found out I was part of the first class of Tableau Zen Masters, a group of seven super-users chosen by Tableau who have demonstrated mastery of Tableau, helped others learn Tableau, and shown an understanding of Tableau’s philosophy.

And I giggled.

In the late 90s I started meditating and was a serious student of enlightenment. I lived and worked in various retreat centers and for a while self-identified as a Buddhist and contemplated entering a monastic life. The notion of daily raking of rock gardens was (and still is) attractive to me. So the polished rock with “Zen Master” and my name on the back sitting on my desk next to the papers and worn down mouse pad and crafts from my daughter was so incongruous, I had to laugh.

But there’s a direct thread of connection between my trimming hedges in Big Sur and getting recognized by Tableau. In that time of meditation I learned the importance of beginner’s mind and of not letting the my ego (and all its fears) run the show, how to follow and ride the rise and fall of emotion and feeling, and how to more deeply listen. All of those skills have served me in learning Tableau and helping others.

Another skill has been what I label thinking orthogonally, of not getting stuck in the duality of thinking this way or that way, but trying to always keep in mind that there are many, many other ways. That’s part of the place where wizardry comes from, and as I’ve been learning Tableau I’ve regularly had my preconceptions destroyed (in a good way) by folks like Joe Mako, Richard Leeke, Andy Cotgreave, James Baker, Ross Bunker, Alex Kerin, Andy Kriebel, and more.

On the day I found out who the other Tableau Zen Masters are, I wrote this email to them:

I’m excited, honored, and humbled to be part of this group. Just looking at the list and having a sense of your areas of expertise, it’s even more clear than usual that there’s so much that I *don’t* know about this thing we call Tableau.

My hope is that we can continue to learn from one another, help more people to do things with Tableau that blow our minds, help/push/prod/poke Tableau into building more awesome software (and fixing the broken bits), and have a lot of fun along the way.

It’s been an amazing year since I started using my favorite piece of software (ever), and I’m looking forward to seeing what the next year brings! In the meantime, here’s the other reason I giggled when I opened the box:

3 thoughts on “Got Tableau questions? I got a rock.

    1. Dustin Smith

      Next year we’re thinking bamboo chia pets. What do you think? 🙂

      Seriously though, thank you for this post. Those boxes were the product of a lot of “how do we send something meaningful, but also cool” and to hear from you and the other Zen Masters that they were appreciated put a big smile on my face.

      P.S. I still owe you a picture of the shark.


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